Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas is Coming...

We attended a Christmas brunch for Baobei at a hotel yesterday... fun to dress up! I was pleased that Gwen could still wear this Santa dress for the third year in a row. :-)

Preparations~ we have our tree decorated and a pretty table arrangement of fresh pine and other greens, made by the Boy Scouts, on our table. I've shopped, both online and here in the markets. Madelyn made some cookies on Saturday and I'm going to a cookie exchange on Friday. We've talked about taking a family picture to send with a Christmas letter, but we haven't done anything about that yet. We've been playing our old favorite Christmas recording, Amy Grant's "Tennesse Christmas." The girls both have Christmas concerts in the next week, and Seth has a middle school Christmas dance on Friday. The girls and I have read some of our Christmas books and today we watched a Christmas dvd after school together. We're counting down the days until we head back to US to be with our families for the holiday break, especially Caleb, who has been working like crazy and needs a break from school!

The first Advent candle was lit in church on Sunday, and scriptures from Isaiah read.
"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given,
And the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

There are so many things to do to "prepare" for Christmas, so many activities to take part in. I feel like I was good at providing meaningful things for our family to do when the children were all young, things that pointed us to Jesus, the real reason for Christmas.

Now that our family encompasses all these different ages, I'm not sure what our Advent season should look like. I can still shop and bake and play Christmas music. But how can I bring JESUS to our time of preparation?

I'd love your ideas, for all ages of children as well as adults. What Advent ideas work in your family and remind you all of the reason for the season?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful For Friends

AAs a bit of a non-conventional Thanksgiving piece, I thought I'd post this photo from a 1920's gala we attended with a group of our friends last weekend. Such a fun evening, especially seeing everyone's period dress.

We have so many things to thank God for. Friends He has brought us to at many different points in our lives, including here in Shanghai, are high on the list!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day Trip to the Past

Yesterday I was in Henan province. It was a day trip, just a 90 minute flight there and back, and my task while there was brief. Just get one picture taken. No big deal, right?

I haven't mentioned Baobei Foundation here much, maybe not at all by name. If you'd like to check it out officially, you can look at the website, which you can find by clicking here. I have a volunteer position with Baobei that has filled quite a bit of my free time during the day while our kids are in school. I've gotten to visit lots of babies in the hospital, orphaned little ones that Baobei brings to Shanghai for neurological or gastrointestinal surgery. I've cuddled infants who couldn't eat all day before their surgery. I watched IV lines started and checked out healing incision sites. I've helped settle these little ones post surgically into foster care with expat families. I've visited these families, gone to physical therapy appointments, searched through Baobei's stash of equipment and clothing, and had meetings where we discussed new children coming and who will next care for the ones we have in Shanghai now.

But a couple of times now I've been privileged to be a small part of one of our Baoebei babies being adopted. Yesterday was one of those times. I traveled with Lily, one of our local Chinese Baobei staff, and a toddler Baobei who is about to have his adoption into his expat foster family completed. We had to return to the city he came from to have his picture taken for his Chinese passport, one of many steps leading up to finalizing his adoption. The actual taking of the photo took only a moment, but we carefully brushed his hair over beforehand, having had to wake him from a sound sleep on my shoulder. The photographer called to him, he looked, and the camera clicked. Then we stood in line for a turn to sit at the police counter with him on my lap while they looked at him and stamped and signed various papers that would ultimately release him from the jurisdiction of the province and allow him to be adopted. Of course everything was said in Chinese and only interpreted to me here and there, so I was just a warm body to hold this Baobei and carry him from place to place, comforting and entertaining on the way.

By 8 PM last night we were back from the day of travel for the photo, and our Baobei (did I mention Baobei means "precious child" in Chinese?) was safely back with his foster family, soon to be forever family. I was left to wonder who took Gwen to get her passport photo taken before her adoption. Did she fall asleep on their shoulder on the way to the police station? Did they smooth down her hair? Did she wonder what this outing from her regular surroundings at the Yibin Social Welfare Institute would mean?

As I look at her little round face on the Chinese passport that she left China with in December 2005, I wish I could read more in her face. I wish I knew more about what came before the day we met her. At least now I know how one more piece of her story happened. Someone dressed Gwen, who was then Wang Yu, in a bright red jacket that day. They took her to the police station. They held her up on the little stool, reaching over to keep her balanced in view of the camera, but with their own body out of the photo. They waited with her to sit at the police counter. Was she a wiggle worm, a ball of energy? Unless she had just woken from a nap like our Baobei yesterday, I'm sure she was!

The look on her face in this little passport picture looks uncertain, her eyes are looking off to one side. Was she wondering what was happening, what was about to happen?

I'm going to show her this picture when she gets home from school today. I don't think she'll remember a thing about it. But I know just a little bit more than I did before, and I kind of like that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Morning In the Temple Garden

This shot was from my photography walk last week. Loved the lighting in this picture, which I took in the garden of the Buddist temple where we ended our walk.
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Fall Photos

Every now and then I find among my children a willing model... such was the case with Gwen a week or two ago, and low and behold we actually had a few moments before church where we were both put together and had time for me to get these shots. I love the missing two front teeth look, and as there's no sign of either tooth making an appearance any time soon, it may be Gwen's signature style for a while. I don't remember the other kids having both teeth missing at the same time like this for any length of time. Cute, cute. :-)

Friday, November 12, 2010


It's Friday night in northeast Ohio. Varsity basketball in the high school gym. Cheering, foot stomping, clapping, yelling with the crowd. Seems like the whole school is here- teachers, parents, students. Middle schoolers huddled together on the bleachers and elementary children running back and forth from the concession stand. Watching my boyfriend driving down the court for a break away lay up.


It's Friday night in Shanghai. Varsity basketball in the high school gym. Cheering, foot stomping, clapping, yelling with the crowd. Seems like the whole school is here. It's my son driving down the court. My boyfriend is my husband now and we're in the crowd on the bleachers, cheering for the varsity team.

Twenty five years later- can it be? Here I am, back in the high school gym on a Friday night, watching a guy I love play basketball.

Holiday Specials

Carrefour has recently expanded their selection of dried meats... can I pick anything up for anyone?
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

City Cemetery

When Scott and I were in Hong Kong for Caleb's volleyball tournament, I wandered into this cemetery near our hotel. It was a massive place, built all over several steep hills in the middle of the city. I love old cemeteries, and this one was particularly fascinating because of where it is located and also because it is Muslim, which made the headstones interesting reading. I found the graves so close together and covered in sand rather than grass to be a bit eerie.
Tomorrow a friend and I are going to be a part of a photography trip to a nearby village and temple. We'll be instructed in how to take good pictures of the subject matter. Hopefully I'll be able to take some photos worth sharing here. :-)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Happy Fall

Cookie decorating afternoon with friends, and the yummy and creative results!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Behind the Wall

Earlier this week I was taking a walk down one of the main roads in Jinqiao, the mostly expat housing area where we live. I was surprised to find the wall that runs all along the sidewalk in this particular block had about a twenty foot section knocked out of it. I had not really considered, in the hundreds of times I had passed this way, why there was even a wall around this property. I had not thought about what was behind the wall, but assumed that maybe it was vacant land just waiting for another expat housing development to be built on it.

What I saw as I slowed to a stop by the missing section of the wall was this lovely garden being tended by hand by a couple of elderly people. Off to the right, outside of this photo, was a nice stand of corn, growing ten feet high. In the background you'll see what appears to be the blanket covered home of this couple. Their laundry is hanging neatly on a line in front of the house. As I stopped to take this photo, one of the two smiled and waved at me.
Now we've seen plenty of this type of living since we've been in Asia, some of it an easy bike ride from where we live. It's not that subsistence farming itself was a total shock. It's that these people had, by the look of their garden, been here for a while behind a wall across the street from a country club-type neighborhood and we didn't know it. And they smiled. They are happily working and living in a manner in stark contrast to those across the street from them.

How shall we then live? Does this change anything?